Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

Johnston ranks 3rd for visitor spending growth

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


SMITHFIELD — Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that domestic visitors to Johnston County spent an average of $256.02 per person in 2018, an increase of 7.1% from 2017 data.

These findings are prepared by the U.S. Travel Association and commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“Johnston County is very fortunate to be the site of the largest manufacturing project in the world — the $2 billion Novo Nordisk project in Clayton. The spending impact of this project and the new Hampton Inn hotel opening in Benson in 2018 were tremendous tourism drivers for our county,” said Donna Bailey Taylor, president and CEO of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. “Along with the impact of Hurricane Florence last fall, our occupancy tax collections were up 20% in 2018.”

Bailey-Taylor explained what 7.1% tourism growth means for Johnston County.

Visitors to Johnston County spend $701,425 a day in local businesses such as retail and outlet shopping, hotels, attractions, dining and travel services.

“$14.23 million state tax and $6.47 million in local tax receipts helps build Johnston County public schools and reduces the tax burden to every household in the county,” said Bailey-Taylor. “Growth of tourism jobs in Johnston County increased by 3.1% in 2018; the county ranked second-highest on job increases in the state.”

Room tax collection paid by visitors is the sole source of operating funds for the visitors bureau’s marketing campaigns. No local county taxes fund the visitors bureau, said Bailey-Taylor.

“In 2018, $198,090 in room tax was invested back into tourism development projects such as recreation facilities, museums, historic preservation,and performing arts and community meeting venues,” said Bailey-Taylor.

“In May, Gov. Cooper announced record spending of $25.3 billion by visitors to North Carolina, representing an increase of 5.6% from 2017,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “The numbers confirm the strength of North Carolina’s tourism industry as an anchor of economic development. As the No. 6 state in the country for overnight visitation, we can attribute our success to the natural beauty and authenticity that visitors experience, and to a passionate effort to inform and inspire travelers. The money they spend benefits everyone by sustaining jobs and reducing our residents’ tax burden.”